Thursday, January 19, 2012

The holiday weight gain in our family

At this point, back to plan for over a week, we can all look at the damage the holidays caused. My husband gained four pounds. My mother in law is counting from when she was sick and couldn't eat, so is counting seven pounds. It's probably more like three to four for her. And for me, it was about six pounds. During the holidays we all ate freely. I was still cautious with alcohol and consuming calories I didn't enjoy. We didn't exercise during the holidays. Well, I did a couple times, but that is it. And for my mother in law and husband, they weren't active in any way. I was standing on my feet for hours in the kitchen, versus sitting on my duff, but not actively working out. So, why did I gain the most? Because my body feels it needs to gain the most.

With losing weight, my body doesn't know that it's not starving. It doesn't know that I have a stocked pantry and refrigerator and that I'm just choosing to eat less than I burn every day. So, when it got all that food, it wanted to store it all. First, in glycogen stores (remember I gained 14.5 pounds in 17 days) and then some as fat, about 6 pounds worth. The glycogen stores are being depleted again and I hope I'm working on the fat by this point. I'm exercising rigorously nearly every day and eating below maintenance calories (thought still not as low as I was before the holidays hit).

From this little experiment of eating more freely for a short period of time, I can see how it would lead to many people just giving up. Seeing a 14 plus pound increase in 17 days by just eating more, but not at binge eating levels could be very, very discouraging if you don't understand it. And even knowing that you need to relose six pounds of previous lost weight is frustrating. Getting down to 171.2 the first time was thrilling. Going for that number again a month or two later is discouraging. It is easy to feel  you have reached a start point again, not that you have accomplished a new goal. It's a mind game.

People who are naturally thin probably do this all the time as normal life. They see their pants are tight, so they eat a bit less for awhile. And cycle through the same 5 pounds every few months - up and down. After the holidays, after Super Bowl Sunday, after Easter, after the Memorial Day weekend and so on. They find that balancing act. Whereas I have only known gaining and losing. This whole maintaining thing will be new. Well, that is not exactly true, but I'm sure maintaining at 160 will be a lot different than maintaining at 255 or 265 like I did for awhile and it was never really a conscious decision. It just happened.

So, I'm trying not to be discouraged by the weight gain over the holidays and I'm trying to learn from it. This is probably more like how eating and living should be when you live in a place and time where food is abundant. My body didn't evolved in the modern technological age. So it can't know to hold steady. It's programmed to gain. I just need to learn how to deal with that long term.

Stats for 1/19/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 176.4
Total hours worked out in 2012: 11.5/250

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